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1413-1415 Swann Street NW.

UrbanTurf usually stays away from publishing rankings or lists…except at the end of the year when we look back at the best that DC’s residential real estate scene had to offer during the previous 12 months. So, this week, we are looking at not only the best, but the most intriguing and peculiar things that came across our radar over the course of the past year.

Former commercial spaces being re-purposed for residential use is not a new phenomenon. Warehouses frequently become lofts, churches become homes, and schools are turned into large multi-unit projects. However, in September, UrbanTurf covered a home on the market that set a very high bar for property transformations of this nature.

In 2005, Gregg Schultz and Joe Riddle passed by a garage in an alley just off the intersection of Swann Street and 14th Street NW (map) that had a for-sale sign in the window. They called and learned that the property was serving as a storage space for Georgetown Furniture, a furniture store that used to be located where El Centro now sits.

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“One of the store owner’s sons was living in the garage,” Schultz told UrbanTurf. “But if you went inside, you would never imagine that someone could live there.”

The listing price for the garage, which was essentially a shell, was around $700,000, fairly high even given the housing boom that the country was experiencing at the time. After some negotiating, Schultz and Riddle purchased the property at a heavily discounted price, and then went about transforming the space into a two-bedroom carriage house.

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Now, the property feels much more like a New York City loft than a former garage. The front (or rather side) door leads into a large living area and kitchen where industrial elements of the property’s former life hang from the ceiling. Behind the kitchen is the main bedroom with an attached bathroom that Schultz and Riddle helped design. The kitchen consists of a long polished concrete counter, and cabinets that Schultz built and installed himself. Off the kitchen is a smaller second bedroom with a Murphy bed and an attached bathroom.

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Stairs in the living room go up to the home office, as well as a custom-built walnut ladder that swings down from the ceiling and leads to the home’s most unique feature. In 2008, Schultz and Riddle installed one of DC’s first residential green roofs. In addition to providing energy efficient insulation, the roof has a garden with various herbs.

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The home, listed for $735,000, quickly attracted several offers, ultimately selling for a whopping $895,000 — all cash.

Schultz’s job took the couple to Houston, but we understand that while they now have a much larger house, they do miss the unique home they created in DC.